Italy is home to more indigenous grape varieties than anywhere else in the world. According to Ian D’Agata’s comprehensive guide, “Native Wine Grapes of Italy,” there are approximately 2,000 indigenous grape varieties in Italy. Of those 2,000, approximately 400 of them are used to make commercial wine.
Twenty of these grapes are grown in Piemonte in the northwest of Italy. The most famous grapes are Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto but it is also home to Cortese (the grape in Gavi) and the sweet wines Moscato and Brachetto. Many of the lesser known grape varieties in Piemonte have been close to extinction.
As in Napa, where many grape varieties were pulled up in order to plant Cabernet Sauvignon, in the Asti region in Piemonte, many grape varieties were decreased to plant more Barbera. But, thanks to some winemakers in Piemonte, some of these lesser known grapes have survived and are beginning to thrive again. Two of these grapes are Freisa and Grignolino. Both red grapes, they produce wines that are high in tannins and acidity. They both are fun to say out loud and even more fun to drink and enjoy with food.
This story originally appeared in ATOD Magazine.
Varietals of wine grapes are endless: Chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, riesling, malbec, barbera, Nebbiolo, sangiovese, pinot grigio … and more! There are hundreds upon hundreds of wine grapes grown throughout the world. Most of those we’re familiar with come French or Italian grapes but have you ever heard of alvarinho, verdelho, malvasia, alicante, tinta roriz or touriga nacional? If not, we wanted to introduce you to some Portuguese wines making their way to more and more on wine lists at some of your favorite restaurants and wine bars.
About the RegionPortugal is located in the Iberian Peninsula in the southwest of Europe, bordered by Spain on one side and water on the other. It’s a small country, only 35,645 square miles (575 miles long by 138 miles wide), which makes it the same size as the states of Maine or Montana. That said, while Portugal may not be a big country, it has the ninth largest vineyard area in the world in comparison to the United States, which ranks sixth.
Portugal is the ninth largest exporter to the United States, behind France, Italy, Spain, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Germany. Twenty-five percent of what is exported are delicious fortified wines, Madeira and Port and seventy-five percent of the wine exported to the US from Portugal are still, dry wines.
www.visitportugal.comPortuguese Wines 101
In the Northern Hemisphere, harvest is well underway. In many places, the grapes have already been picked and pressed, and the juice is fermenting. As the wine is being made, what happens to the skins?
In most cases, it is used as compost and in some cases it is turned into grappa. But there are so many other uses for grapes and skins as I recently experienced during my stay at the Kinsterna Hotel and Spa in Greece.
Kinsterna Hotel and Spa is located in Monemvasia in the region of Laconia in the south of the Peloponnese. The hotel, a fortified manor that dates to the 12th century, sits on a hillside covered with olive trees and vineyards.